Jefferson Graham previews new features expected on the next iPhone, on #TalkingTech.
Q: If I decide to buy one of the new iPhones, should I get it from Apple or my wireless carrier?
A: In the bad old days — by which I mean, up until just over a decade ago — you had no choice. Carriers sold phones at what seemed like a low price, except that you’d make that up in higher service fees that stayed high even after the carrier had recouped its subsidy of the phone price.
Now you have a choice. And in most cases, that choice should be Apple. That company lets you buy an iPhone on the same installment-plan terms as most of their carriers — but without selling you an iPhone electronically locked to their services.
This option, however, won’t jump out at you on Apple’s site. You’ll have to pick out an iPhone and a carrier, then select “Show more payment options.” With AT&T, Sprint or Verizon, you’ll then see an “Apple iPhone Payments” choice listed that has you make 24 monthly payments on a phone that comes unlocked, ready to use with any other carrier.
Of those three choices, the Sprint and Verizon phones offer maximum compatibility with U.S. services, as PCMag’s Sascha Segan advised in a post after the iPhone 7’s debut.
Apple’s installment-plan option provides the biggest advantage over AT&T’s comparable choice, since that one leaves your phone locked to the carrier until you pay it off. So you can’t switch to another carrier, and if you go overseas you’re stuck with AT&T’s international roaming, which while better than before at $10 a day still costs more than a prepaid SIM card bought overseas.
With Sprint, your options are either leasing the phone — on terms that over two years add up to the same total cost as buying it — or paying the full price upfront. With a…